For our latest story from abroad, we interviewed Ren Geers, who moved from Washington D.C. to Spain for an internship that he found through Jobbatical, which turned into a full-time gig as growth hacker.
Find out what it is about Barcelona that he loves so much, and why he is craving peanut butter!
How did you first hear about Jobbatical, and why did you decide to sign up?
I’ve always been obsessed with traveling, and I actually spent a lot of time searching for positions abroad before I had heard of Jobbatical. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a job in a foreign country. I would have to search job sites for each country or research companies in specific cities and apply through their website. I heard about Jobbatical on Reddit back in May and checked it frequently since. When I saw the position at Photoslurp in Barcelona, it was a no-brainer.
Where were you working before moving to Barcelona, and how is the work culture different there?
Before Barcelona, I was a full-time student at the University of Maryland and working in Washington D.C. The biggest difference between the two cities is how much more relaxed everyone is in Barcelona, both at work and just in general. We still work hard, but people don’t take everything as seriously here, which I really enjoy.
Was there anything that surprised you about the team at Photoslurp?
One thing that surprised me about my team is how fluent everyone is in English. We have people from Germany, Spain, Venezuela, Greece, and Hungary, but everyone speaks English in the office (except when our CEO gets too excited and switches to Spanish).
This is the first job I’ve had in a foreign country, and also the first startup I’ve worked at. Other jobs I’ve had my role and responsibilities were specifically outlined. Here everyone has their strengths, but the team is small so we all work together. It’s fun to wear different hats and experience different aspects of the company.
What is valuable about gaining international experience?
Living and working abroad has been a dream of mine for a while, so I would say this experience has made me a lot happier than I was before. It also showed me that it’s possible to work in a foreign country.
The world is only getting more connected as time goes on and it’s important to be able to step out of your comfort zone and work with people from different countries. Living abroad also opens you up to so many experiences you wouldn’t have had at home and gives you the opportunity to meet people with completely different histories and cultures.
Your favorite thing about Barcelona?
I’ve moved around a lot in my life and Barcelona is easily my favorite place I have lived. The people are very laid-back and welcoming. The weather is beautiful and it’s on the beach. Everything is so cheap!! I have one roommate in a three bedroom apartment and I’m paying less than I paid to share a two bedroom apartment with three roommates in D.C. There’s fruit and vegetable stores everywhere and produce costs less than fast food.
And the biggest challenge?
Speaking of food, I don’t know if I can go back to non-tapas style eating (a bunch of small dishes to share). The biggest challenge I’ve faced is that even though it’s cheap to go out to dinner and drinks, it adds up quickly when there’s so many places you want to try and you order everything on the menu.
Do you have any advice for those considering a jobbatical?
To those considering taking a jobbatical, I’d say, do it. You won’t regret it. One thing I would recommend is doing some research on food from home that isn’t available wherever you’re going. I was finally able to find a place near me selling Sriracha last week, but I’m still struggling to find peanut butter.
(If anyone in America wants to send me a care package I can trade Spanish stuff!)
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